Epoch Times: Natural Disaster May Not Be Natural, Says Group

NWF Report details policies that worsen flooding and give recommendations to avoid future disasters

05-25-2011 // Paul Darin/Epoch Times

The following is an excerpt from The Epoch Times.

The current flooding on the Mississippi River is causing anguish for surrounding communities as well as for organizations attempting to curb the problem. The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) says government policies have worsened the flooding and offer suggestions for policymakers to avoid future problems.

The NWF report, “Natural Solutions for an Unnatural Disaster,” released last week, outlined five ways government policies are causing flooding. It offered detailed recommendations for politicians to avoid causing the very disasters they intend to liberate us from.

The NWF’s solution involves a more natural take on the flooding problem. Natural defenses provide a more balanced approach to a large, complex problem. Some of these natural defenses include healthy wetlands, floodplains, and cultivated farmland. However, the NWF is not entirely against man-made flood solutions such as levees and dams.

Bonnet Carre opening the spillway

The first suggestion to reduce further flooding involves floodplain development. Restoration of the floodplain delta would reduce threats to local communities while saving taxpayers billions in potential damages. Untrammeled rivers build and enrich land by depositing silt in floodplains. Overly channeled rivers cannot do this.

The NWF’s second suggestion was to modernize federal water policy guidelines. According to the report, updated plans with natural solutions could help the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and rescue and cleanup organizations better manage communities hit or destroyed by floods. Additionally, updated policies could help manage future water projects more wisely on and along the Mississippi.

One of the heaviest impacts of flooding has to do with human development. NWF suggests better planning, engineering, and political decisions to solve this potential disaster. Development of land brings tax dollars to cities and communities. However, poorly planned development along a floodplain could potentially cost the taxpayers billions in damages and restoration. More areas that naturally flood should be left undeveloped. Open floodplains would act as sponges and reduce property damage.

"Rivers like the Mississippi flood worst where unwise planning, engineering, and political decisions have been made. A vital first step in improving U.S. river management is to require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to use the best available science in planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of river projects." said Dr. Nicholas Pinter, professor of Geology at Southern Illinois University in a recent NWF press release.

A fourth measure involves reduction of carbon pollution and greenhouse gases, according to the NWF. The group calls on politicians and all Americans to reduce carbon pollution wherever they can. Carbon pollution, which increases global temperatures by trapping the sun’s rays, eventually leads to increased rainfall, which goes hand in hand with river flooding, said the report.

The NWF believes procedures mentioned above would not be necessary if more natural measures and less invasive policies were taken to reduce or even avoid the impact of the flood on man-made structures like dams and levees.